Cape May Ferry Gets Overhaul

Cape May Ferry


Posted: Sunday, November 1, 2015 12:30 pm
By BRIAN IANIERI, Staff Writer
The first of three active vessels at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry will depart Sunday for a Staten Island dry dock, where it will be outfitted with two new engines capable of running on compressed or liquefied natural gas.
The $1.8 million Electro Motive Division engines will still run on diesel when the 320-foot MV Delaware returns to service in April.
But they can run on natural gas, too, and they may in the future, depending on how energy trends play out, said James Salmon, spokesman for the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which runs the ferry connecting Lower Township to Lewes, Delaware.
“We’re trying to give ourselves flexibility,” he said.
The new engines will replace approximately 40-year-old Fairbanks Morse propulsion engine models that are no longer made, making finding replacement parts tricky, Salmon said. Their design dates to 1938, and they also were used to power submarines.
The newly outfitted MV Delaware will burn less diesel and is expected to cut emissions by 40 percent, the authority said.
A ferry can burn through 400 gallons of diesel on a round trip, and the new engines may cut fuel consumption to 200 gallons based on nearly 70 years of technological advancement in engines, Salmon said.
The authority has a $2.8 million fuel budget for 2015, Salmon said.
Ferry Director of Operations Heath Gehrke said maintenance costs are expected to drop by $130,000 a year.
The 8-cylinder Electro Motive engines are each 5,000 pounds lighter than the 12-cylinder older ones, a nearly 13 percent weight reduction, Salmon said.
Over the next five years, the authority said it plans to re-power its other two active ferries — the MV New Jersey and the MV Cape Henlopen.
The upcoming engine replacement on the MV Delaware is part of a total $5.3 million dry docking that coincides with routine maintenance, new cooling systems an overhauled bow thruster and other work.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided a $970,000 grant as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act.
The ferry will also be equipped with SeaKeeper seawater monitoring system used by the University of Delaware to collect water-quality data, the authority said. The MV New Jersey currently has such a system, Salmon said.
Salmon said missing the MV Delaware for four months will not impact the ferry schedule.
A one-vessel schedule is used in the winter that includes four round trips a day most of the time, Salmon said.
The ferry system transported about 275,000 vehicles and about one million passengers last year.
The MV Delaware is scheduled to leave for Caddell’s Drydock and Repair Company of Staten Island on Sunday night and arrive Monday morning. It is expected to return to service in April.
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